At a time when we are all asking questions about identity, grief, and how to stand up for what is right, this book by the author of A Thousand Questions will hit home with young readers who love Hena Khan and Varian Johnson—or anyone struggling to understand recent U.S. history and how it still affects us today.
Yusuf Azeem has spent all his life in the small town of Frey, Texas—and nearly that long waiting for the chance to participate in the regional robotics competition, which he just knows he can win.
Only, this year is going to be more difficult than he thought. Because this year is the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an anniversary that has everyone in his Muslim community on edge.
With “Never Forget” banners everywhere and a hostile group of townspeople protesting the new mosque, Yusuf realizes that the country’s anger from two decades ago hasn’t gone away. Can he hold onto his joy—and his friendships—in the face of heartache and prejudice?
About the Author
Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American writer, interfaith activist, and cultural-sensitivity trainer and is the author of the early-reader Yasmin series and A Thousand Questions. She resides in Houston, Texas, with her family.
"Faruqi finds engaging ways to explore how myriad tragedies of 9/11 have lodged in our memories, from uncomfortable questions in Yusuf’s classroom to a conflict over the construction of a mosque... Among the novel’s strengths is the hope it offers young readers, because despite the real menace from those who consider Muslim Americans “the enemy … among us,” Yusuf does have allies. They cannot solve all his problems, but they can see him as we all hope our children will be seen, for their decency, potential and hearts."
— New York Times Book Review
"Gripping, well-paced, and poignant, this is an essential purchase for all libraries and a must-read book of our times that raises important questions about who controls historical narratives, what it means to stand up for justice, and the legacy of an event that cannot be forgotten."
— School Library Journal (starred review)
"A timely, emotional story full of hope and love even in the face of discrimination and prejudice."
— Kirkus Reviews
"Yusuf Azeem Is Not A Hero will surely help spark many conversations about Islamophobia and xenophobia, as well as how much things have changed in the past 20 years. Faruqi's emotional story will resonate with older readers who lived through the events many years ago, and younger readers will gain insight on the lasting effects that the 9/11 attacks had on Americans and why they are an important part of history."
"Faruqi effectively probes complexities of radical activism vs. peaceful accommodation as Muslim response to prejudice, as well as the non-Muslim community’s deep discomfort in stepping beyond a bystander role in defense of their neighbors."
— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"[A] timely, hopeful middle grade novel."
— Publishers Weekly